Anglican World Leaders Support Racial Justice Protests

[Episcopal News Service]

Anglican leaders from around the world have issued statements supporting the now-global protest movement against racism and violence arising from George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.

The Most Rev. Thabo Magkoba, primate of the Anglican Church in the Province of Southern Africa lamented the tragedy that sparked the global protests,  “George Floyd’s killing flies in the face of the solidarity evident in the world’s response to the pandemic, and we condemn the brutal treatment he was subjected to,” the archbishop wrote. “May Mr. Floyd rest in peace.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a joint statement with outgoing Archbishop of York John Sentamu on June 2, describing Floyd’s death as evidence of “the ongoing evil of white supremacy.” Archbishops Welby and Sentamu also stated, “Our hearts weep for the suffering caused – for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear. God’s justice and love for all creation demands that this evil is properly confronted and tackled.” The same day, Archbishop Welby tweeted his support for the Episcopal Church’s public witness in the crisis, saying, “I thank God for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s leadership and for all in the US who are striving for racial justice and reconciliation.”

Welby’s predecessor, Archbishop Rowan Williams described President Trump’s Bible photo-op as “an act of idolatry” in a public letter. “In a context where racial privilege itself has long been an idolatry, where long-unchallenged institutional violence has been a routine means for the self-defense of that privilege, the image of the president clinging to the Scriptures as if to an amulet is bizarre even by the standards of recent years,” he wrote. The Scottish Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops also issued a formal condemnation of the president’s actions.

In Australia, Floyd’s death coincided with a nationwide Week of Prayer for Reconciliation, aimed at highlighting the racial injustices suffered by the nation’s Aboriginal peoples. The Rt. Rev. Chris McLeod, the Anglican Church of Australia’s Aboriginal bishop drew a series of parallels in a public statement, noting that Floyd’s death “has triggered off a series of protests and riots around America, and protests here in Australia…It also reminded us that since the findings of the ‘Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’ report (1991) there have been a further 432 deaths in [police] custody. Just in the last few days we have also witnessed the violent arrest of an Aboriginal teenager in New South Wales. We can see quite clearly that reconciliation means far more than saying the right words and uttering the right prayers for one week of the year. Something is very, very wrong with racial equality in both American and Australia, and needs to be changed.”

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